Original work

We live in a modern world where everything has been said and done.  There are so many great minds and creative people that it can often be tough to be original.  I have written in my previous posts about how I have always found art to be my oasis.  During my childhood and teenage years, I would get lost for days – sitting in my room, working on an art project.  I have always loved to process of execution, the attention to details, and the challenges of figuring out the finer points of the project.  Yet, in terms of finding original ideas for new projects, I have mostly relied on external sources.

You might say, that is not so new.  Probably all artists have built on groundwork laid down by their predecessors.  It may be true, and the same concepts apply to science.  No one could go at it alone.  All new findings build on the previously existing knowledge, modifying and combining ideas to discover or create something new.

Innovation has been a huge buzzword lately.  Everywhere. But what does it mean to be truly innovative?  When I was a postdoc, I took an entrepreneurship course called Q.E.D – “which is what had to be shown”.  One of the first things we discussed in that class was the difference between sustaining vs. disruptive technologies.  One of the most popular examples of a disruptive technology  is the invention of hydraulics to replace cable-driven excavators.  I have found myself to be more closely positioned to the sustaining side, which keeps polishing and improving what is currently available.

During my graduate studies, I was given a project that branched off of a larger, more mainstream, project of one of the postdocs at the time.  I had to carve out a very specialized niche and function within it.  Moving on to my first job outside of academia, I found myself in a similar situation, where I had to “go with the flow” for a while.  Only in the last few months did I really begin to feel truly innovative, proposing bold new ideas that put whole bodies of current knowledge into question.  I am beginning to feel more disruptive.

Seeing this daily prompt on originality served as a tipping point for me to begin putting some of my own ideas on paper for NeuroBead  as well.  I have jotted down a few things in the past that I would like to implement in the near future, and now I have finally begun sketching them out.

My next project will be centered around Sholl analysis.  I remember how much I loved the concept during graduate school and tried really hard to find an application for it in my project on neuronal differentiation in response to cannabinoid receptor stimulation.  Unfortunately, it did not lead to any interesting results, but the elegance of the method itself still pulls at my aesthetic heartstrings.  I hope to begin this project in the near future and will be posting updates on the progress.  Stay tuned!


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